National Green Tribunal summons secretaries on canal dredging

A picture of overflowing Bagjola canal taken on Wednesday. Telegraph photo

Posted on September 28, 2021

The NGT had on July 14 ordered the department to file an affidavit on the cleaning of the canals

The National Green Tribunal on Friday ordered the secretary of the Bengal state irrigation and waterways department to appear before it virtually on September 28 and state what the department has done to dredge Kestopur and Bagjola canals and their feeders.

The tribunal had on July 14 ordered the department to file an affidavit on the cleaning of the canals. The department has not filed the affidavit.

Also on Friday, the NGT asked the secretary of the state municipal affairs and urban development department “to be present before the tribunal though virtual court proceedings” on September 28.

The NGT said in its order that the municipal affairs department had stated in its affidavit that a detailed project report “for abatement of pollution of the Bagjola canal was finalised and work order was issued on 10.01.2020 but… there is nothing at the ground level to show the results”.

While passing its order on Friday, the tribunal cited instances of people falling into open manholes on flooded streets or driving their cars into water bodies, failing to tell them apart from roads because of the inundation.

“The irrigation and waterways department had been directed to file a fresh affidavit with regard to the cleaning of the above referred canals but till date no such affidavit has been filed… we, therefore, direct the principal secretary, irrigation and waterways department, Govt. of West Bengal, to be present before this Tribunal through virtual court proceedings on Tuesday i.e, on 28.09.2021 with his personal affidavit showing what action has been taken by his department towards dredging of the Kestopur and Bagjola canals and its tributaries”.

The NGT referred to an inspection report and said “the horrendous condition of the Kestopur canal… demonstrates the absolute abject neglect and apathy of the Irrigation and Waterways Department with regard to the dredging of the canal”. It added: “We wonder what the urban development and municipal affairs department… and the irrigation and waterways department… were doing and why they did not anticipate, with the onset of the monsoon, that such a situation would arise ordinarily even if there was no cyclone ravaging the city of Kolkata.”

The Telegraph has been reporting for the last several days how Dum Dum, New Town and Bidhannagar have been flooded recently. The primary reason for the inundation is lack of dredging and encroachments on the canals.

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